Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
The flight was cancelled, and a man, who was well known in the community, insistently demanded that he be placed in the next available flight. He had a very important meeting to attend. He asked to talk to the manager, and the manager asked him to be patient and he would be attended to. But the man, fuming with anger, demanded for his rights. And he said with a threatening tone, “do you know who I am?” The manager looked at him from head to foot, took the microphone and announced, “ladies and gentlemen, there is a man here who does not know who he is, if anyone recognizes him, please let us know” (a.u).
Certainly, Jesus knew who He was and His mission. In today’s Gospel, He wanted to make sure that His disciples knew who He was. He asked them an objective question, “who do people say that I am?” and also a more difficult, personal question, “who do you say that I am?”
His disciples answered correctly. Yet to be able to do that, Peter and the other disciples had to be attentive to Him:
a) They had to be with Him wherever He was, for He declared,
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5).
b) They had to walk with Him wherever He went: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mk 8:34).
c) They had to listen to Him and do what He commanded them:
Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven… Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock (Mt 7:22-24).
d) They also had to learn to forgive, because forgiveness is the virtue that God could give His disciples, in order that they could be worthy of God’s presence and live in peace with everyone:
This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven… forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us… (Mt 6:9-12).
For us the credibility of Jesus will depend on two sides: first, on what He does to us and who He is to us; and, second, on what we do with His Words and who we are to Him and His people. Jesus knows who we are: that we need to be guided back to the Father because of our sinfulness. How we know ourselves will only depend on how we listen to Him and how we live out His Words. To be with Jesus is to spent time in prayer and in reading and reflecting on the Scriptures, to join the community in celebrating the sacraments, to be faithful to our families and society, to be honest in our work and relationships, to respond to the needs of the poor and the suffering, and to make use of the capacities that God has given us. So the priest proclaims before Holy Communion: Behold the Lamb of God! Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
It is easy to go along with what people say about Jesus, about religion, about the church. It needs a lot of reflection though on what we have to say and proclaim about Jesus. It needs a life lived “with Him, through Him and in Him, (and) in the unity of the Holy Spirit” so we can proclaim who Jesus is and what His Church means to us. It also needs a celebration of life with the community as we make His life and His mission present to the world, because He commanded us, “Do this in memory of Me.”
Just like Peter who proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God, we also need a life of ardent faith, not only in mind and in words, but most especially, in actions, because “faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Ja 2:17). Then God, the Rock of our Salvation, can remain in us, and on this Rock, we can build His Church in our families, in our communities and in the whole world. So we have the courage to proclaim who Jesus is, not who we are, and to repeat daily the prayer that we said at the Responsorial Psalm, “Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.”